No one would argue that spending focused time on your leg strength is time well spent.

Getting your first muscle-up would make anyone’s day. And achieving a PR on your Clean and Jerk is just plain awesome. But… everyone knows, in reality, that strengthening any muscle pales in comparison to the importance of strengthening of your core.

If your core is weak, your entire body is affected.

This is a given with our bodies, but it’s often not as clear with our businesses. Every gym owner knows they need to work on better classes, creating challenging (yet fun) WOD’s, “systematizing” our processes, getting more members, keeping those members, and training our coaches. But, what we continue to discover as we talk with box owners is that many gyms have a hard time knowing how to strengthen their core.

So what is a gym’s “core” anyway?

It’s your values. It’s why you wake up at the early hour and do what you do. It’s what guides you in all your hires and fires. It’s why you keep doing it day after day, even if the money isn’t what you thought it might be. It’s what gives your members a reason to be proud to workout where they do. It’s what motivates you to make your piece of this world better. It’s your why.

That sounds great, but how does one go about defining the important things? The fact of the matter is, as you go, so goes your gym. The leader determines the vibe. You value certain things, which you pass along to your coaches. Your coaches feel a certain way according to how you treat them, and pass that along to your members. Your members, then in turn, pass their feelings on to new people walking in your doors. Your value communicates your gym’s perspective of the world, but also how the world sees you. It also determines how you treat others, including your business partner, coaches, staff, members, vendors, and potential members.

After all, it really is about people, isn’t it?

Most importantly though, your values will serve as the driving force behind all your most difficult business decisions. One of which is your hiring and firing. In a small business, every hire profoundly matters. The people you hire will come with their own set of values. Be sure you seek to understand what these values are up front. If they don’t fit your values 100% (yes, 100% – not 95%), do not hire them. This may sound extreme, but you’ll be thankful later.

Like all companies, we’ve had to let people go. Parting ways is never easy, especially when you have invested time, money, and care in someone. But the tough decision to cut ties becomes “right and good” when that person doesn’t align with your core values. What happens when one of your people knowingly violates one of your values? Our advice… Let them go. Your team has to be united on what it values. The core determines the strength of the body.  Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos says, “We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build.”

Memorializing your values doesn’t have to be a hard, or painful process.

What you’ll find is that your values are already floating around in your gym. Think about it. You go out of town and visit another box. Immediately you have an impression of them when you look at their website. You like what you see so you go check them out. You walk in and the place is spotless. Their equipment is well-maintained. Their purpose statement is on the wall in big, bold letters. The people are smiling and friendly. The coaches are in control and motivating. The place just “feels” good. And, as a result, your workout is one of the best you’ve had in awhile. What you’ve just experienced is their values in action.

So, how do you define yours?  Let’s spell it out step by step…

  1. Write down your personal values first.  Take out a piece of paper and use either pictures or words to identify the highest and the lowest points of your life. The things that got you to where you are. Then write down the things that energize you and the things that really make you mad. And, have your other key people (partners, coaches, etc.) do the same.
  2. Brainstorm these questions: “What is important at our gym and what is unique about working here?” and “What is our gym NOT? What do other gyms value that we DON’T?”. Make a list of your answers, putting them on individual Post-it notes, then group your answers into categories.
  3. Write out your top 4-5 values from the groupings you’ve created. Look at all your answers on your Post-it notes and divide them into groups. Determine what the themes are and list them out.
  4. Turn those words/phrases into your core values. Get creative with your values. Make them memorable. Stay away from “generic” or lukewarm values. Capture your gym’s culture and vibe in them. Check out this link to see some really good ones from successful companies.
  5. Use your values in everything you do. This is maybe the most important point. Post them in your gym. Talk about them with your staff. Determine a set of questions you can ask during an interview to see if your values align. Incorporate them in your conversations with members. But, most importantly, live them every day.

In their book Corporate Culture And Performance, John Kotter and James Heskett complete a ten year research project in which they deduce that purposeful, value-driven companies have a 12x greater likelihood of being successful than their counterparts. Without values and purpose, leadership is less likely to be able to motivate their people and drive success; and customers are more likely to have difficulty connecting with the organization.

Values are a critical part of your DNA. Whether or not you write them down, we all hold to certain values. If I spent a half a day in your gym, I’m fairly certain I could make a list of your gym’s core values. Some gyms would be described with words like warm, welcoming, excellence, family, encouraging, supportive. Others would be competitive, me first, ego-driven, chaotic, unorganized.

The question you have to answer is this… Are your values driving the kind of culture and success you really want in your gym?

If your answer is “no”, the responsibility to make change happen lies with you.  Why not start today?[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][divider line_type=”Full Width Line” custom_height=”30″]aboutusJulie

Article by: Julie Weldon | 321Go Brand Ambassador/Relationship Manager

Julie’s diverse background includes being a cake designer, coaching basketball, traveling to 13 different developing countries to do volunteer work on a year long trip, working in the not-for-profit world for 10 years, starting two businesses, working as a People & Change consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, taking a product to market (and “failing”, only to get back up and do it a second time), and working as a business coach/consultant to small businesses.

Julie has found home in beautiful Charleston, SC. She gets super fired up when helping individuals and small businesses take their success to the next level, and when she gets to hear people’s stories. In her free time, she can be found in the boat or on the beach, hanging out with her Golden Retriever, dreaming up another business idea with her partner, Stacey, or geeking out on yet another leadership book.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]